5 Free Agents Left for Vikings to Target

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings fired up a busy and memorable first week of free agency, targeting defensive players, along with a new bridge quarterback and starting running back.

Vikings Free Agency: The 4 Most Realistic Signees

You can track all the roster movement here.

And as Minnesota enters the second wave of free agency, it could still add more newcomers according to short- and long-term roster needs. Ranked in ascending order, these are the five free agents for the purple team to target next (No. 1 = best target).

5. D.J. Chark (WR)

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.

Chark was a theory for the Vikings’ WR2 last offseason before the club drafted Jordan Addison and knocked any would-be Chark addition out of the park. The veteran wideout signed with the Carolina Panthers as Adam Thielen’s running mate and promptly gobbled 525 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns on 35 receptions.

Now, unsigned after free agency’s first wave, the man would make sense in purple as a WR3.

4. Laken Tomlinson (OG)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, Tomlinson was mentioned as a free-agent recommendation by Josh Frey, the editor of PurplePTSD, a sister site to VikingsTerritory. Frey wrote, “Tomlinson’s tenure with the New York Jets didn’t exactly go as planned, but there should be a question as to how much of that blame lies with him compared to the rest of New York’s putrid offensive line. Tomlinson was a plus-starter for years in San Francisco, offers terrific durability, and can immediately plug into Minnesota’s hole at left guard.”

The man remains available on the open market, and if Minnesota doesn’t re-sign Dalton Risner and doesn’t plan to start Blake Brandel at left guard, well, Tomlinson makes sense.

3. Emmanuel Ogbah (OLB)

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

VikingsTerritory‘s Janik Eckardt wrote about Ogbah last month, “Ogbah was the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 draft, selected by the Cleveland Browns. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 and won a Super Bowl ring in his lone season in Missouri. As an unrestricted free agent, he joined Miami in 2020 after Flores’ first season as the head coach. In two campaigns under Minnesota’s defensive coordinator, he produced 18 sacks (9 in each season) and 83 tackles. It was the most successful tenure in his career and led to a massive contract extension.”

Minnesota signed Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel for the EDGE room this week, but more depth is needed.

Ogbah can be precisely that.

2. Calais Campbell (DT)

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

This man is a machine that never ages. He was drafted the year after Adrian Peterson — if that can be believed — and is still one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles.

Minnesota didn’t sign Christian Wilkins, Leonard Williams, or Arik Armstead, so the clock is ticking on adding an impact interior defensive lineman. In fact, Campbell could be the last chance this offseason unless the club has grand plans to snag a DT in the draft.

Campbell produced an 80.0 Pro Football Focus grade last season — at age 37. A beast.

1. Xavien Howard (CB)

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports.

Howard didn’t set the world on fire in 2023 — he posted a 55.1 Pro Football Focus grade — but the Vikings don’t adamantly need a lockdown defensive back. They need a veteran defender to help patrol the secondary while corners like Andrew Booth, Mekhi Blackmon, and Akayleb Evans continue to develop. Minnesota also has Byron Murphy Jr. on the depth chart.

The Vikings could sign Howard as an insurance policy and hope the 30-year-old can rekindle some of his glory days. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler and worked alongside Brian Flores from 2019 to 2021 in Miami.

Howard was formally released on Wednesday with a post-June 1st designation, meaning Miami will absorb the savings benefit this summer. However, Howard can sign anywhere in the NFL — like now — and if the Vikings are serious about fixing the secondary, this is the guy, assuming a splashy L’Jarius Sneed trade isn’t attainable.

Minnesota ranked 32nd leaguewide in 2023 per completion percentage allowed. If it doesn’t add someone like Howard, it will risk “running it back” while hoping existing players’ development will be the fix.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.